updated 12:20 pm EST, Thu March 5, 2009
VMware Fusion vs Parallels
MacTech has released a benchmark study of virtual machines on the Mac, comparing Parallels Desktop with VMware Fusion 2.0.1. The tests were run on four different systems including the white MacBook, unibody MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro. The white MacBook was equipped with 2GB of RAM with a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo processor, while the unibody Pro contained 4GB of RAM and a 2.53GHz chip. The iMac ran at 2.66GHz with 2GB of RAM, while the Mac Pro utilized 4GB of RAM and an eight-core 2.8GHz CPU. Over 2,500 tests were completed with Windows XP and Vista virtualizations, gauging factors like file and network IQ, footprint, application launch and 3D and HD graphics.
Many program tasks were performed too fast to be recorded, so observations focused on intensive operations such as generating a large amount of random numbers to be placed into Microsoft Excel cells. Results from this show Parallels performing anywhere between two to 14 percent faster than Fusion, with the exception of a PowerPoint test, in which both titles produced similar results in Vista.
In the footprint tests, Parallels again came out on top with up to a third less CPU usage than Fusion. Parallels also came out ahead in file and network IQ tests, showing speeds four to 43 percent better. In one instance though, Fusion achieved eight percent better speed when running in Vista.
The 3D and HD tests compared the performance and look of several different games and videos. Both environments are said to have handled 720p and 1080p movies smoothly under XP. Parallel could not run any HD movies at all in Vista, while Fusion stuttered on the iMac and MacBooks, working properly with Vista only on the Mac Pro.
The two games tested included Portal and Civilization 4. Both environments had different problems dealing with the titles; Fusion in some cases had lighting issues and problems with start-up video, while Parallels lacked the ability to display rich graphics.
Parallels is said to be the overall winner of the tests, due to running 14 to 20 percent faster than Fusion on average. Fusion is said to be useful though for people looking to run 32-bit XP on two virtual processors, in which case it can be 10 percent faster.